It’s been a GREAT year for YA books!! I’ve read so many that were amazing, and I now have the daunting task of creating a list of the best. The hardest part? Limiting it to eighteen (oh, the agony!!) But in no particular order here are my top picks in nine different genres I read based on recommendations and personal choice, with a short one sentence review for each book, a recommendation for exceptional audiobooks, and a link to Goodreads. Most of them are 2018, but there are a few exceptions for titles I missed in very recent years (haven’t we all done that? 🙂
The Faithful Spy: Deitrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix. Abrams, 2018. Graphic Novel/Biographical Narrative NF. The reader gets to see the other side of WW II from the perspective of those Germans who wanted to defy Hitler with their will, solidarity, and faith in good that led to three almost successful attempts to end his reign of terror and to stop the war.
- Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. Little, Brown, 2017. Historical Fiction. This book places the reader in one place (Tulsa, Oklahoma) but at two very different times and reveals the horror and destruction prejudice and bias can do to tear apart relationships and families. **exceptional audiobook booktrailer
- Neverworld Wake by Mariah Pessl. 2018, Delacorte Press. Fantasy Fiction/New Adult. Five friends venture into a world that is warped by time and their living dreams, and their actions will impact their future where only one will survive based on the decisions of them all. booktrailer
- Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton. 2017, Random House. Realistic Fiction. The novel chronicles Adam’s struggle with schizophrenia along with a fresh start in a new high school, and with the help of a new drug, he begins to see improvement in his life until the drug begins to fail… **exceptional audiobook
- Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer. 2018, Houghton Mifflin. Fantasy/Horror. In Nita’s world, those with supernatural powers are curious to her while her mother knows they’re more valuable dead than alive and when the two clash over the next victim, Nita finds herself sold on the black market as a commodity with her life at stake.
- 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling. 2018, Sterling Children’s Books. Realistic Fiction/Mystery. Gus lives in Nowhere, Arizona (the name says it all) and has to dodge the local bully and hide a secret crush until a date with a cholla cactus leads him on an impossible journey to make his life bully-free with a possibility of romance.
- Impossibility of Us Katy Upperman. 2018, Swoon Reads. Romance. After her brother’s death serving in Afghanistan, Elise is adjusting to a new life when she meets Mati and where she also realizes she struggles with the prejudice her family has against him because of his Afghanistani heritage and culture and her love for him.
- Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian. 2018, Delacorte Press. Fantasy. Theodosia saw the fall of her country to a brutal dictator and is now forced to live in the castle as a tortuous example of triumph until she is approached as the last hope of their people, where she will have to make a decision of life and death for them and her. **exceptional audiobook booktrailer
- Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman. 2018, Simon and Schuster. Survival Fiction. Southern California has reached Tap Out, where there is no more available water for the region and when Alyssa’s parents disappear trying to find water, she must navigate herself and others through danger from desperation and drought to survive.
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family in Crisis by J.D. Vance. 2016, Harper. Biography/Narrative NF. The 34 year-old author writes about his childhood and the struggles of the poor white working class culture he grew up in where generational poverty and abuse navigated his decisions and relationships, which ultimately molded his life and success as a lawyer. **exceptional audiobook
- Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo. 2018, HarperTeen. Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse. Xiomara lives in the Bronx with her twin brother in a very traditional family with strict expectations and with her growing sense of identity and physicality, which she chronicles in her poetry journal, a clash between both her personal and traditional worlds tears both apart. booktrailer
- I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman. 2018, Penguin Teen. Realistic Fiction. In one single day, three teens are struggling with life that include a personal passion turned into a parent’s passion, the love of a boy, and the loss of a father, and they find themselves at the same place in Central Park where their stories are told and they help each other find the beginning of the paths they choose. booktrailer
- Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu. 2018, First Second. Biographies/Narrative NF Graphic Novel. The author details the lives who brazen women (gasp!) that impacted history, but most importantly, about women whose lives are not nearly as spoken and written about as they should be and includes stellar ladies like Peggy Guggenheim, Agnodice, and Nzinga, to name a few.
- Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein. 2018, Roaring Brook Press. Narrative Biography/Graphic Novel. This beautifully illustrated GN traces Mary Shelley’s life along with the joy, tragedies and very complicated relationships that helped her create one of the most recognized monsters of her and our time and opens up the reader’s awareness of how Frankenstein parallels a woman whose personal strength ran deep.
- All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson. 2108, Razorbill. Realistic Fiction. When a bridge collapses in Boston, four teens nervously sit in the hospital waiting room to find out if their sister, parents, and loved one survived and during the time spent waiting, their stories come out about the impact of those who hopefully survived the bridge collapse made in their lives.
- Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics. 2015 Harlequin Teen. Horror. Amanda’s world changes when she finds her family is moving to the prairie to escape harsh winters, only to find herself living the tales of nightmarish horrors she’s heard about the prairie, all while trying to protect her siblings and her hidden pregnancy. **exceptional audiobook
- The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares. 2017, Delacorte Press. Realistic Fiction/New Adult. Every family has dysfunction, and this one is no different except that the siblings on both sides continue to have a strong bond beyond their parents’ divorce, the joy of an impending wedding celebration and the loss of life, all in a summer cottage and small town everyone grew up sharing.
- Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricial Hruby Powell. 2017, Chronicle Books. Historical Fiction. Told in two strong alternating voices, this novel brings to life the civil rights case for mixed marriage in a time when segregation still reared it’s ugly head, and where readers in today’s world can see the implications of this landmark decision in the United States today. **exceptional audiobook